Sparrow Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Michael Ehret


This disc is 35 minutes long - make that 35 minutes short. Thirty-five minutes. Slightly longer than it takes to watch the great TV comedy Sports Night but not quite as long as it takes to bake a quality homemade lasagna.

Frankly, the lasagna is a better deal - at least the way it's made around here. Not that LoveLibertyDisco isn't a tasty piece of music. It certainly is. But, man - that small helping of music grieves my spirit (that's Christian for ticks me off). But, then, the 'boys have never been long in the time department - which is a shame because their albums since 1994's Going Public have been getting better and better - not longer, but better.

Now, I'm not asking for every disc to max out in the 78 minute arena. However, when you've got a good thing going can't you extend it to at least 50-55 minutes? (This does not apply to acts such as Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears. They should be limited by international law to no more than 35 minutes . . . but, I digress.)

And, make no mistake, the Newsboys do have a great thing going with their latest release. But, before the title scares you disco wimps away ("I love the nightlife. I've got to boogie. On the disco round.") this is not a disco album. Oh, sure, there are hints of disco, just a whiff really, but silk shirts open to the navel and platform shoes are not required even though the cover shows the boys in white suits, looking a little like crazed Bee Gees.

LoveLibertyDisco opens with "Beautiful Sound," a song celebrating the worship. "It's a beautiful sound/moving through the crowd/voices lifted up on high for You/It's a beautiful song/we've only just begun to understand/rediscovering You."

This disc takes off nicely from where the Boys last one, Step Up To The Microphone, left off. The big difference is this disc is produced by Peter Furler, the lead singer of the group. Furler really has a solid handle on what his group is capable of.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

His group. That's another interesting point. Through 1996's Take Me To Your Leader, the de facto leader of the group was vocalist John James. When James departed after Leader, many predicted the imminent demise of the Newsboys. But they proved those critics wrong with the stand up success of Microphone. Furler stepped mightily into the big shoes left by James and the band never skipped a beat. And Furler has been learning the producers craft since at least 1992 and Not Ashamed under the tutelage of Steve Taylor, Christian music's reigning cool guy.

Still, all the production polish in the world cannot save a disc if the songs are vapid or the performance lackluster. As for the lyrics, the Newsboys are still pleasantly loopy in their approach. Which is not to say there isn't good content. This disc would definitely pass the Gospel Music Association's litmus test, but even the class clown passes his subjects. Examples?

Let's take that title tune. "Do you feel the love that invites us?/Liberty excites us/The disco has just begun, just begun/Give me love, give me liberty, disco/The place everybody in the family's found/On that day we will all be happy people/When love, liberty, disco's in town" Laid over a traditional disco bed of synthesized strings and drum machines, this song is fun. The lyrics, about finding happiness in the love and liberty that life in Christ brings, are serious but setting paradise as a Heavenly disco is just hilarious.

But, being serious with a touch of levity is nothing new for the Newsboys. "Shine" and "Breakfast" from past albums immediately come to mind. Still, with the song "Say You Need Love" the band deals with the pretty heavy subjects of feeling betrayed by those who should be loving you. "Has someone you trusted left you betrayed?/Has someone who loved you thrown love away?/Do you see God?/Does He have a face?/Looks like your father's, how does it relate?/You're scared of being let down"

Many people have an unfortunate image of God as a stern and unloving Father. But, that kind of view is often more of a result of a bad relationship with their earthly father than of any real experience with God. But, it can cause real hurt and keep people from turning to God, the Father. In the bridge, the Furler sings of the solution: "Don't be afraid/Don't shy away/He'll never leave you/He won't forsake you/Don't be afraid/Don't shy away/He's not gonna leave you"

The topic of feeling alienated from God is a recurring Newsboys theme, but it has never been presented better - or in a stronger form - than in the song "I Surrender All." No, this is not a reworking of the tired altar call chorus, but rather a somber realization that regardless of how bleak life appears to be, the solution is to surrender one's life to God. It may not bring sunshine, but it does bring grace - and the change in one life can affect others. "This reliance on another world/Has a great effect on this world/This conscience of another world/Has a great effect on grace recollection/He doesn't love us 'cause of who we are/He only loves us 'cause of who He is." You couldn't ask for a better explanation of God's grace than that.

This disc may be a little short - but it doesn't short on the message. In the end that's more important than the length.

Rating: B+

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© 2000 Michael Ehret and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Sparrow Records, and is used for informational purposes only.